Edwin Espinal 3

Top 10 Hitters: A First Baseman Starting to Show His Power

Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Notes on the top ten players from the last week can be found below the chart.

*Runs Created is a stat created by Bill James used to estimate how many runs an individual contributes to his team. There are many formulas for runs created. For these purposes the basic formula is used. That formula is ((H + BB) * (1B + (2*2B) + (3*3B) + (4*HR))) / (AB + BB).

The Top Ten

1. Edwin Espinal, 1B – Espinal had the best week for any Pirates hitter, well above second place Chris Dickerson. He had 12 hits, including three doubles and two homers. Espinal came into this season as a sleeper prospect. He has been moved fairly quickly in the system, going up a level each year, starting as a 17-year-old in the DSL three years ago. He is huge, listed at 6’3″, 210 pounds, Espinal no doubt weighs in much more than that. He doesn’t have the ideal baseball body, which limits him to first base, but he makes solid contact now and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him add power to his game soon. Not only did he have the best week last week, he’s also having his best month, posting an .841 OPS.

2. Chris Dickerson, OF – Dickerson hit .500 this week, continuing his solid season, which could make him a depth option for the Pirates, especially when rosters expand in September. He is hitting .323/.412/.493, with 23 extra-base hits and 12 stolen bases in 60 games.

3. Willy Garcia, RF –  Garcia has shown the ability to hit for power this year, adding four doubles and a homer last week. On the season, he has 17 doubles, four triples and ten homers. He also has decent speed and a good glove, which makes him a strong defensive right fielder, who has a cannon for an arm. His problem, which could really limit his upside, is his 12/85 BB/K ratio, which is typical of his career. Luckily for Garcia, he is still young, so he has time to turn that around. Due to his age, tools and horrible plate patience, he has a huge difference between his floor and his ceiling. With better patience, he is a five tool outfielder. If it keeps regressing at he goes up, you’re looking at someone who may never see the Majors.

4. Taylor Gushue, C – It’s strange for a team to have two catchers listed among the top ten hitters for the week, but Jamestown did just that. Gushue was the fourth round draft pick this year and he got off to a great start, homering four times in his first five games. He hasn’t homered in his last nine games, but he has become a walking machine recently. Gushue walked ten times this week, giving him 13 walks and 16 hits, plus 15 RBIs, in his first 14 games.

5. Kevin Krause, C – The second Jamestown catcher is Krause, who was taken in the ninth round this year. He made the list this week because six of his seven hits went for extra-bases. Krause and Gushue are basically splitting the catching duties(with Deybi Garcia also seeing time) and they are also taking turns in the DH spot. That rotation will probably continue, as the two draft picks ease themselves into a baseball season that is longer than they are used to.

6. Matt Hague, 1B –  The Hit Collector earned  his nickname this week, but he may have to change that name to the RBI Collector. Hague leads the International League and all Pirates minor league players in RBIs this season. Just like Dickerson, he could find himself on the Pirates bench in September if they are in a pennant race.

7. Jordan Steranka, 1B –  Steranka was hitting well until he got injured at the end of April, which caused him to miss a month. He seems to be back on track now, homering in three straight games this week. Due to his age(turns 25 in November) and the fact he is limited to first base, Steranka at this time doesn’t profile more than an organizational filler, who will likely top out at AA.

8. Adam Frazier, SS – It looks like Frazier has finally found his stroke this season after a horrible start, both offensively and on defense. He has hit in 12 straight games and 20 of his last 21 games. He will never hit for power, still looking for his first homer after exactly 500 at-bats as a pro. What he will do is get on base, while displaying above average speed that hasn’t translated into stolen bases yet. He should be able to handle shortstop at the higher levels despite committing 22 errors there already. The move straight to High-A from Jamestown last year, may have been a little too quick for Frazier, who is finally starting to look like the solid player he was in college.

9. Carl Anderson, OF – Anderson has looked like a strong late-round draft pick early on, getting on base at a nice clip and stealing six bases already. He is also playing center field everyday in Jamestown, which is a good sign. We will need to see more from him at a higher level, but the early results are great for the 21-year-old from Bryant College.

10. Harold Ramirez, OF – Ramirez currently has a 21-game hit streak, collecting 12 hits this past week. As one of the top hitting prospects in the Pirates system, Ramirez is showing why he was also named the top prospect in the NYPL last year. He has his average up to .301 through 47 games, with 12 stolen bases, doing all that while playing center field as a 19-year-old in full-season ball. He missed a month due to hamstring injury and hasn’t stopped hitting since he returned in early May. Ramirez has picked up at least one hit in 37 of his 43 games played since returning. He hasn’t hit for power yet and may never be more than a 10-15 homer guy, but he will hit for average, play solid defense and makes things happen on the bases.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • Lee Young

    I am a Carl Anderson fan.

  • st1300b

    Ultimately is Harold simply a trade chip? What role could he see in 2-3 years? Seems like other players are stronger long term options. Is he another Tabata type?

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